Friday, April 12, 2019

Six Questions for Annabel Mahoney and Katherine Mills, Editors, The Wellington Street Review

The Wellington Street Review publishes poetry, fiction to 3,000 words, creative nonfiction to 3,500 words, and art. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Wellington Street Review: Because all our friends were doing it and we wanted to look cool.

No, really we saw a gap - certainly in the UK lit mag scene - for literature and critical engagement with history, which is strange because historical fiction and period drama tend to dominate the cultural landscape. Annabel has a degree in history and is studying critical theory at postgrad level, and Kat’s degree is in English Literature and Creative Writing. Both of us write a lot on history and memory, or how historical figures are received and interpreted. The nice thing about the phrase ‘historical engagement’ is that can mean engagement on a macro or a micro level; how you engage with or think about the past, or how the past is engaged with or portrayed.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

WSR: Originality – underrepresented historical thought and evidence. Original reception of historical media; original interpretations of events and historiography. Not poems about your ex.

Cohesiveness – we like there to be a tangible thought behind the poem. Our optional commentaries provide the writer with a space to explain how their writing relates to the reader and to the overall ethos of the Wellington Street Review. The reader is vital in writing; the work is written to be received and there must be a takeaway for the reader. Poems you have to read several times to parse or which are too esoteric can be difficult to engage with.

Voice – a recognisable and unique voice from the writer and an idea of how the writer interprets work. We have some lovely poems in our upcoming issue which are pastiches of other poets, but the writers’ reading and voice works in a conversation with the original, and the poem is about the dialogue rather than a conscious emulation.

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

WSR: Not following the submission guidelines is a big and an obvious one. Small mistakes are inevitable and they happen to everyone, but when a submission arrives without any body email or without any engagement with the editors, it’s a tell-tale sign that not much thought has gone into why the writer would like their piece featured.

In the submission process, it’s easy to focus on how your work is right for the journal, but it’s equally important to think about what the journal can do for your work. What can we bring to your piece? Are you submitting because you would like to be featured in a space alongside works of a similar ethos, or to be able to feature a commentary? Or is it because you’ve seen a journal with its submissions open?

SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraph(s)/stanza(s) of a submission?

WSR: Both of us have very different tastes and backgrounds when it comes to poetry. It leads to a more varied end result in the magazine and for some very interesting editors meetings.

Everyone always talks about drawing a reader in; as a reader, what catches Kat’s attention is an evocative use of language. She’s a big fan of Imagism so what she’s looking for in a creative piece is writers who pinpoint an image, time, place, or a feeling which resonates with her. While Annabel has been writing creatively a long time, her background is in academia and teaching and so she likes to see a clear communication of ideas which have a real purpose behind them.

In critical non-fiction, we both like to see a confident approach to the subject matter and a clear, personal voice. Essays don’t have to be dry to be worthy of publication!

SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

WSR: In our submission guidelines we ask for submissions without gratuitous swearing, sexual language or violence. We absolutely won’t publish racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic content, TERF/SWERF rhetoric, or iterations of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism or any form of religious intolerance. Although periods of history may feature intolerance, and we understand a desire to replicate historical authenticity, as editors we have to draw a line between historicity and promoting intolerance.

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

WSR: “What have you discovered in running a literary magazine?”

Although The Wellington Street Review is only two months old at the time of writing, we have discovered that the growing poetry community on twitter is a great source of both support and readership. Finding an enthusiastic community of writers and publishers who often overlap and who are engaged purely for the joy of sharing in literary work has been a wonderful experience for us.

Thank you, Annabel and Kat. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

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